I stood outside the theater on a Monday night. The crowds of the weekend were only faded after-images, filled in by my memory and imagination. As the twilight dimmed people trickled in, a middle-aged couple here, a family there, occasional small groups of teens. These few, these happy few.
This Monday night’s movie-goers were a special crowd. My homeys. Except geeks like us don’t say “homeys”. My tribe. My fellow travelers. Time travelers, to be specific. It was the premier of Doctor Who, Season 8, and Peter Capaldi was about to take the screen and occupy the TARDIS. Every Whovian was beautiful in my eyes, and I felt an instant kinship with each one that passed by, oblivious to my allegiance because I hadn’t worn my Whovian apparel. I was invisible.
Later, I could relate when the 12th Doctor said, “You can’t see me, can you? You look at me and you can’t see me.”
Movie, or Mind Melding?
What happens when we immerse ourselves in a TV series? Week after week (or day after day for the Netflix bingers) we share headspace. People occupy our heads like Capaldi occupied the TARDIS. These people evoke emotions in us. Sometimes we like them, sometimes we hate them, sometimes they make us laugh, sometimes cry.
It’s the same when we read a book series. Or a comic book series. People take up residence inside us. We think it’s the story characters that we love, but have you ever considered what’s really happening? Is it really Doctor Who that we love? Or is it Russell T. Davies? Steven Moffat? Was it really Sherlock Holmes that everybody loved, or was it Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Or in modern times, again Steven Moffat! Is it the crew of the Serenity, the cast of Buffy, the sympathetic aspiring villain Dr. Horrible — or is Joss Whedon whose heart we enjoy?
If you have ever been the fan of an author who wrote more than one series that you enjoyed, you may have made this connection. “I’ll read anything he writes. Doesn’t matter what genre. His work is amazing.”
Lois McMaster Bujold, author extraordinaire and fellow reader, mentions briefly in this review of The Rivers of London the very concept I sat down to write about here. She says,
There exists a quality of a book that I do not have a name for; it is approached by terms like “mode” and “voice” and “the writer’s world-view”, but isn’t quite any of these. I short-hand it as, “What kind of head-space am I going to be stuck in now?” And is it one I that will enjoy being stuck in? We seek out, I think, any favorite writer’s other books, even if they are varied, in the hopes of entering that agreeable head-space again.
When a single author creates a character, or a cast of characters, or a story world that we return to again and again, we’ve found someone whose headspace we enjoy inhabiting. Occupying, and yet opening ourselves to. Melding with.
The publishing world is changing. The world of entertainment is shifting. The best part of this transformation: the opportunity to find authors whose headspace we want to share. Authors whose voices might never have made it past the editors and publishing committees whose eyes were always on the bottom line, always looking for the voices with the widest possible audience.
Now those unique voices are set free and accessible to all.
I’m not saying it’s easy. There are a lot of stories to sort through. Which is why we readers need to get smart about finding what we’re looking for. Search for what we love. Find authors who love the same shows we do. Read their samples. And when we hit gold, when we find the ones we love to immerse ourselves in, hang on for dear life and don’t let go! Buy every book they put out. Support every Kickstarter they launch, even if it’s just with five bucks because it’s all we have. Talk to them on social media and leave reviews telling them how much we love their work.
Because they need encouragement. Because shared headspace is a sacred and precious gift, made possible by another amazing gift — the gift of words and the human imagination.
Readers and authors, unite.
Let’s love each other. Honor each other. Celebrate each other.
Live long, and prosper.
May the Force be with you.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
It is a good time to be a fan. Our new favorite story is just around the next bend.